Long Term Impact of Auto Accidents

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Injuries resulting from auto accidents (also referred to as Motor Vehicle Accident or MVA) can leave long-term effects on the victims, with symptoms that can prolong for long periods of time or even for a lifetime.

by Luz Senan, D.C.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012 Crash Injuries totaled approximately $18 billion in lifetime medical costs and over 75% of costs occurred during the first 18 months following the Injuries. Also there was a total of $33 billion in lifetime work lost.

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Some of the most common auto accident injuries can include:

1. Injuries of the Neck and Back – Sprain and strain injuries as well as disc injuries of the neck and lower back can result in long term pain that may require chiropractic, physical therapy and/or pain management for prolonged periods of time or even a lifetime. In a study conducted in 2006 by Pain Research and Management, the findings suggest that injuries resulting from MVAs contribute significantly to the population of individuals with chronic spine pain in the United States. In addition, individuals with chronic pain in the neck, and neck and back, are more likely to have acquired their pain as a result of an MVA, in comparison with individuals with chronic back pain alone. (1)

2. Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) – Traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain that results from the brain being exposed to an external mechanical force, possibly leading to permanent or temporary impairment of cognitive and some physical functions. An example can be memory loss. Although the majority of patients with mild TBI improve within three months of injury, it is estimated that approximately 20% experience symptoms such as memory problems, depression, or cognitive difficulties that may continue for six months or longer. (2)

3. Chest, Pelvis and Abdominal Injuries – Seatbelts and airbags are very effective in saving lives after a car injury but sometimes they can be the cause of some internal or external injuries in the thoracic and pelvic areas. These injuries can be caused by the seatbelts being improperly placed, airbags deploying, or by colliding with objects or parts of the interior of the vehicle. It is very important if there is some bruising noted in the chest or abdomen to make sure there are no internal injuries.

Juliet Kiara <julietevaughn@gmail.com>

4. Upper and lower extremities Injuries – After an auto accident, there also can be injuries to the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees, ankle and feet. These injuries are usually sprain/strain to the tissues but at times fractures and dislocations can be found.

5. Anxiety, Depression and Long Term Phobias – Some patients report experiencing anxiety and fears of driving after being involved in an auto accident. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs an average of 60% of patients who seek mental health treatment after an MVA and have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) also have a mood disorder like major depression and anxiety disorder.

In conclusion, motor vehicle injuries do not have to be life threatening to cause long term effects that may require treatment. Oftentimes, after an auto injury patient goes to the ER and is told that “nothing is wrong”— meaning there are no fractures or internal bleeding—the patient may go home experiencing symptoms that were not present prior to the auto accident or the injury; symptoms that often don’t show in a short period of time. In addition, if the accident occured in Florida, there is a 14-day rule in Personal Insurance Protection or PIP (Florida Statute 627.736 the Florida No-Fault Statute) where you need to be evaluated by a medical provider in the first 14 days following your accident in order to be able to use our PIP benefits.

If you have been involved in an auto accident or MVA and have any of the above-mentioned symptoms or any symptom that was not present prior to the auto accident, give us a call so we can help. We have been treating motor vehicle accident victims for 15 years.

1. M. Freeman, A. Croft, A. Rossignol, S. Centeno, and W. Elkins. Chronic neck pain and whiplash: A case-control study of the relationship between acute whiplash injuries and chronic neck pain. Pain Res Manag. 2006 Summer; 11(2): 79–83.

2. P. Dischinger, K. Read. T. Kerns, S. Ho, J. Kufera, C. Burch and N. Jawed. Causes and Outcomes of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: An Analysis of Ciren Data. Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. 2003; 47: 577–589.

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Dr. Luz Senan

Author: Dr. Luz Senan

Luz Senan, D.C. earned her Doctor of Chiropractic Degree from Cleveland Chiropractic College, where she also graduated Magna Cum Laude. Dr. Senan’s prior work experience includes being a geriatric case manager and mental health counselor. Dr. Senan is fluent in Spanish.

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